3 Themes from the 2018 Midwest Women in Tech Conference

Jenni Ziegler Sr. Manager of Application Release and QA Engineering, DialogTech

I recently had an opportunity to attend the Midwest Women in Tech Conference (MWIT)—a gathering designed to rally together powerful female leaders to change the future.

Women-led companies show 12% higher profits and 35% higher ROI, but less than 30% of corporate leaders are women. This unfortunate statistic, and many others like it, drives me to follow the conversations of women in the tech community. To continue the discussion about how women are changing the industry, I’m sharing my favorite themes from the conference with you.

speaker on stage at midwest women in technology conference Source: Kelly Page

Believe in Your Own Narrative

The seemingly simple act of believing in yourself can be life-changing. Jamie Migdal of FetchFind shared a compelling story about what happened when she stopped seeking validation from others and started championing her own story. She had previously sought reassurance and buy-in from others, even on matters regarding the direction of her own business. Once she realized the need for owning her story with strength and confidence, she shed the burden of outside approval and opened up a world of new opportunities.

Kristi Ross, founder of the online financial network tastytrade, who provided an inspiring keynote, told an amazing story about the power of believing in yourself. Preparedness and tenacity are the tools she uses to drive herself towards self-assurance and growth.

There is Power in Diversity

Diversity among employees equals variety and depth of business ideas. A broader range of perspectives drive businesses and industries towards new markets, new goals and new levels of success. This very important topic was a consistent theme of the conference.

There were three speakers that stood out, as they provided powerful examples of diversity in action:

  1. Katy Lynch of Codeverse talked about the importance of building strong, diverse management teams to guide businesses. As an emerging startup, Codeverse has a big goal – to teach a billion kids to learn to code. Their team is comprised of a team of technologists, seasoned entrepreneurs, educators, and parents and one of the four main values is to celebrate individuality. 
  2. Cayla Weinberg of InvestHER Ventures shared some intriguing numbers about females within the venture capital (VC) space—in 2016 only 2.19% of VC funding went to women founders. InvestHER partners with dynamic creative companies in that US that have at least one female executive with equity interest. 
  3. Donna Beasley’s company, Kazoom Books, is a book company that invests in titles featuring diverse characters, helping children see people who look like them to show that they can truly do anything.

You Don’t Have to Know It All, But Persist

The idea that no one has all of the answers all of the time was carried through nearly every speaker at the conference. Shaniqua Davis, founder of Noirefy, shared her story of having a baby before college and getting laid off from a job—things she saw as obstacles at the time. However, she persisted and climbed those obstacles like a ladder, going on to found a company focused on connecting minorities to businesses looking to hire.

Aviva Rosman, co-founder of Ballot Ready, is a risk averse hyper-planner. However, her fears of being out of control and not knowing everything that will happen haven’t held her back in growing her business. As Keyo’s Cayetana Polanoco said during her talk, the only way forward is to overcome fear, even though you don’t exactly know what’s next.

Overall we were reminded that women in tech (and men too!) must believe in themselves, be open to diverse perspectives, and be persistent. Easier said than done, right? At DialogTech, we focus on empowering diverse leaders in technology regardless of gender.

Our employees are one of the reasons we have been named one of Chicago’s Best Places to Work by Crain’s Business and we never miss an opportunity to highlight their hard work and success. Check out our #LifeAtDialogTech conversation on our blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to gain a sneak peek into our culture, career opportunities and our awesome team of people.

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